How Macy's Views Data Analytics
I recently participated in an American Marketing Association (AMA) webinar in which we discussed how injecting analytics into the marketing process improves profitability. With marketing budgets under so much scrutiny today, you’d be amazed at how many of the companies I work with still allow marketers to rely solely on instinct and intuition.
One problem is a distrust surrounding analytics — not to mention fear that it will force marketers to change or devalue their expertise. So marketers hide behind the claim that they can’t quantify creativity, insisting that we should leave them to run their budgets and programs as they see fit.
I think these folks are missing a monumental opportunity. The application of analytics is by no means the death knell for intuition and creative expression. Quite the reverse, actually. Analytically-derived customer insight can dramatically enrich the art of marketing. Deeper insights into the real sources of customer value, the broader impact of marketing costs and the future behavior of customers translates into more effective concepts. Isn’t it better to know that your creative efforts are zeroing in on the right audience rather than being tossed into the air to see where, or if, they hit the mark?
On the webinar panel was Paul Coleman, director of marketing statistics at Macy’s. Coleman believes in marrying creative vision with technical expertise — i..e., the qualitative with the quantitative.
“Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses were beautiful,” Coleman said, “but they often had leaky roofs. He might have had better success if he had partnered more with his roofing contractor. The most creative ideas can create problems if they're short on technical execution.”
So, when do you press forward on gut feelings? When should you turn to advanced analytics? The mistake may be to view them as separate, competing strategies. It isn’t a case of a marketing team brainstorm session vs. rigid mathematical models. Both have their merits and limitations when used in isolation. Together, they enhance and validate each other. More importantly, a unified approach delivers better results. That’s what marketers want.